'Sing' Review: Easy pleasures, aimless gimmicks

Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet’s Sing is the latest money-making venture from Illumination Entertainment, (Minions and The Secret Life of Pets), whose movies value lowbrow jokes over innovation.

Their latest offering, Sing, is a pleasant but hackneyed blunder of song and storytelling.

Animated idol

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The cartoon thrives on easy pleasures. It capitalizes on all things cute, furry, and fake for the sake of convenient entertainment.

Sing’s main protagonist is a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey). In an effort to save his theater from being foreclosed, he spearheads a singing competition that will award amateurs with hidden talents a cash prize of a thousand dollars.

His secretary, a bumbling iguana whose removable glass eye is one of the cartoon’s grossly lame running jokes, makes a mistake and types in a $100,000 instead, pushing hordes of animals of all species to line up and audition.

 

This is essentially American Idol, complete with the sob stories of housewives who have abandoned the lure of the stage to take care of their kids, troubled teenagers whose only way out is show business, and shy kids who need a push to reveal their inner diva. Its only novelty is that the talent search is animated and everyone is a cuddly animal.

While it would be foolish to describe the popular televised talent show as authentic, it at least provides audacious moments of thrilling spontaneity. Sing, on the other hand, feels thoroughly manufactured, like glossed-up toys straight out of a soulless factory.

High-strung musical

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Sing is just too high-strung. It is restless and out of focus, jumping from one story to another with so much needless urgency that it ends up being a muddled medley of pop hits, punchlines, and recycled drama.

Its gimmick of making animals belt out songs is quite pointless.

Sure, there is a certain absurdity to witnessing a gorilla in a leather jacket sing an emotionally-charged Sam Smith love song, or a tiny mouse croon with confidence. However, the oddity wears off very quickly, resulting in a progression of jokes and spectacles that are more of the same.

It just stops there. Unlike Disney’s Zootopia – a cartoon that doesn’t belittle itself by regurgitating the same layer-less diversion for bored children – Sing doesn’t have any ambitions of making more of the movie's metaphor. It doesn't try to say anything about the current state of show business that would make its depiction of everyone as beasts more than just comic relief.

Pop, fun, and money

Screengrab from YouTube/Movieclips Trailers

Sing is fun enough. It will keep the family preoccupied for the couple of hours with its sugar and colors in full display. Treat its marriage of contemporary music and predictable plotting as a commodity, and nothing more.

As the timeless nursery rhyme reminds us, that’s the way the money goes, pop goes the weasel, or in this cartoon’s case, the pig, the elephant, and the rest of the animal kingdom. – Rappler.com